It all started with a jam session on a Winnipeg winter afternoon, just a few girls sitting around, playing tunes, singing songs, and thinking about their future. Four years later, the Winnipeg-based roots quartet Oh My Darling has released three critically acclaimed albums, and is touring ceaselessly, headlining three consecutive European tours, countless tours across Canada, and a recent debut in the US at New York City's Living Room. They have earned opening spots for Blue Rodeo, Tegan & Sara, performed at Trafalgar Square's Canada Day celebration in London England, The Winnipeg Folk Festival, Tøndor Festival (DK), and have shared the stage in collaborations with such artists as Tim O'Brien, Dirk Powell, Le Vent du Nord, and many other musical friends. Oh My Darling has been topping the campus radio charts, can be heard regularly on CBC Radio and Radio Canada. They have received rave reviews for their recordings and performances, and have had three albums nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. The gals are crowd favourites at Country and Folk Festivals, and are winning the hearts of all who come to experience their energetic live show!
Inspired by Classic Country, Appalachian Old Time, Bluegrass and Francophone Traditional music, the songs of Oh My Darling are strikingly original, while evoking the lexicon of these diverse musical influences. Dazzling solos, soaring vocals, and unique grooves enhance thoughtful songwriting, and arranging, where instrumental melodies and poetic lyricism are nestled together.
Venez Danser (2012), Oh My Darling's most recent release, is a six song EP done entirely in the French language. Inspired by the music and history of the Franco-Métis people in their home province of Manitoba, the gals also drew inspiration from other Franco-traditional musics such as Cajun, Acadien, and Quebecois, to create a beautiful blend of original songwriting, and uniquely arranged traditional tunes and songs. The album releases in September 2012, coinciding with a headlining tour of Québec, and as a supporting act for Lisa LeBlanc.
The title of Oh My Darling's latest full length release, Sweet Nostalgia (2011), was inspired by the way the ladies were reconciling their love for playing traditional repertoire and their love for writing original material. The result is a stellar follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut (In the Lonesome Hours, 2010) where the four have found a common ground between the past and the present. One of their finest efforts as a collective of musicians and songwriters, Sweet Nostalgia is currently nominated for a 2012 Western Canadian Music Award for Best Roots Album!
It's the love for performing, and the excitement of live music that Oh My Darling strove to capture while recording Sweet Nostalgia. In just seven days, in a straw bale house in Roseisle, Manitoba, all 10 tracks were recorded live, with the Juno Award winning producer Steve Dawson. The result is a raw and honest sound that has the exuberance of the stage show, and shines the spotlight on each of these girls' extraordinary talents as musicians and songwriters. Vanessa Kuzina (vocals, guitar, fiddlesticks), Rosalyn Dennett (vocals, fiddle), Allison de Groot (claw-hammer banjo, vocals), and Marie-Josée Dandeneau (acoustic bass, vocals), make up the members of Oh My Darling, and each is a musical prodigy in her own right.
Allison (banjo/vocals) is one of Canada’s best claw hammer banjo players, and is the first claw-hammer banjoist to be awarded a prestigious full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Allison brings a calm and steadiness to the band with her personality, as well as her rock solid banjo lines. She holds a Fine Arts degree from the University of Manitoba, which helps her to oversee all of the visual artwork done with the band. Allison started studying banjo when she was just out of high school. Once she discovered the claw-hammer style, she began taking lessons with Daniel Koulack, and has since studied with Bob Carlin, Adam Hurt, and Brad Leftwich. She has participated many times at the Old Time Appalachian String Band Festival in West Virginia, and is well known internationally for her unique and graceful style of playing.
Marie-Josée (bass/vocals) a self taught musician, was already a veteran of the music scene, before joining the band Oh My Darling. Her tours with Nine Mile, Xavier Rudd, the Wyrd Sisters, Corinne West, Tribe of One, Pete Murray, Eliana Cuevos Band and Doug Cox (to name a few!) have taken her, and her unique style of bass playing, all over the globe. This experience was vital to Oh My Darling's momentum, as MJ assumed the important role of booking for the band, keeping Oh My Darling busy throughout the years. Her custom-made upright bass is a commanding presence, despite it's smaller size, due to the energy and vitality that MJ expresses in her live performances. Audiences and musicians alike, frequently pay compliment to her talent as a player and singer, as well as her engaging show of personality on-stage.
Rosalyn (fiddle/vocals) is a life long scholar of music. She spent a year in Galway, honing her skills as an Irish fiddler, has made multiple trips to northern Manitoba to teach and experience fiddle in Métis culture, earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Manitoba, and has recently been making pilgrimages to the United States to immerse herself in Old Time Appalachian singing and fiddling. Rosalyn's passion for learning is but a reflection of her passion for her craft. She puts a fierce enthusiasm into her singing and fiddle playing, song writing, and performance, with an informed edge. She infuses Oh My Darling with subtle humour, through her role as the band's copywriter, and is always looking forward to the next good jam, or bad joke.
Vanessa (vocals/guitar) discovered her voice learning the songs of Canadian greats like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Inspired with a fierce passion to write and sing she began writing in her teens and released her solo album of all original songs, Peony (2007). She has been labeled the "cowboy poet" of the group, with her lyrics that tell stories about life on the prairies, and probe at emotions that run deep through the human experience. With her passion for singing and live performance Vanessa draws the audience in with her ability to tell the story with her soaring voice. Her sensitivity and empathy are invaluable to the band, as she is most often the spokesperson for the group, and is lauded for her ability to handle even the stickiest of situations with grace and poise. Vanessa has been leading songwriting workshops and camps, and has been mentored by major folk and country artists such as Sam Baker (singer-songwriter, TX), David Francey, Heather Bishop, Tom Wilson (Junk house, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings), and Murray Pulver (Doc Walker).
MORE ABOUT OH MY DARLING
It is the combination of four strong personalities that makes Oh My Darling one-of-a-kind. With four creative minds behind the writing, arranging and performing, the original music of Oh My Darling is unique, informed, and entertaining. Formed during a particularly frosty Manitoba winter, in 2008, Allison, inspired by groups like Uncle Earl, asked her friends Vanessa and MJ to put together an all female old time band. Looking for a fourth who could play fiddle, Allison’s step-dad called a bluegrass band-mate from the 1970s, which informed him that her daughter played fiddle. Rosalyn Dennett was brought into the mix, and the music making began. They soon realized that Vanessa had a great talent for song writing, and MJ had a tendency towards unconventional bass lines and harmony, so the idea of a traditional band began to fade into the background in favor of a more contemporary sounding repertoire.
Still keeping some old time tunes up their sleeve, they started building an arsenal of original material, and before they could reload, they got their first gig at the Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg. Scrambling to come up with a name for their first gig, they took on the name Fill'd'Riel (daughters of Riel), which celebrated the bands Métis heritage, while also acknowledging the range of influences in their music, including Celtic, French, Métis, and American. After the festival was over, the girls went back to the drawing board and the name Oh My Darling emerged from the rubble of crumpled scraps of paper, bird encyclopedias, and tune books.
Their self-titled debut EP Oh My Darling was released in 2009, and honoured with a Western Canadian Music Award for Best Roots Album. Throughout 2010, Oh My Darling headlined Canadian tours from coast-to-coast, and showcased at the Canadian Country Music Awards. They were interviewed by CMT, received regular play on CBC Radio, and were featured on CBC Radio 2’s ‘Canada Live’ concert series.
In The Lonesome Hours is the debut full-length release from Winnipeg based country roots group Oh My Darling. Blending their original songwriting and instrumentation with traditional flavors, these four young women have created a melodious concoction that is truly comfort food for the ears. Recorded and co-produced by Lloyd Peterson, the album showcases each member for their creativity and superb musicianship, while maintaining a finely woven cohesive sound through all ten tracks. In the Lonesome Hours was also nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award, and topped the national campus roots charts in 2010, making Oh My Darling the 14th most requested band on Canadian campus radio.
Watching Oh My Darling play, you feel like you’re walking into a room of best friends, interacting naturally and effortlessly. The wordless communication that happens between them that is mesmerizing. They are sincere and earnest on stage, with a measure of good-natured humour thrown in. You can tell they love to entertain. Their passion for performing is a force of nature, and that's a force to be reckoned with.